Background: Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is an important signaling compound that has recently been identified as a new substrate for several members of the aquaporin superfamily in various organisms. Evidence is emerging about the physiological significance of aquaporin-facilitated H2O2 diffusion.
Scope of review: This review summarizes current knowledge about aquaporin-facilitated H2O2 diffusion across cellular membranes. It focuses on physicochemical and experimental evidence demonstrating the involvement of aquaporins in the transport of this redox signaling compound and discusses the regulation and structural prerequisites of these channels to transmit this signal. It also provides perspectives about the potential importance of aquaporin-facilitated H2O2 diffusion processes and places this knowledge in the context of the current understanding of transmembrane redox signaling processes.
Major conclusions: Specific aquaporin isoforms facilitate the passive diffusion of H2O2 across biological membranes and control H2O2 membrane permeability and signaling in living organisms.
General significance: Redox signaling is a very important process regulating the physiology of cells and organisms in a similar way to the well-characterized hormonal and calcium signaling pathways. Efficient transmembrane diffusion of H2O2, a key molecule in the redox signaling network, requires aquaporins and makes these channels important players in this signaling process. Channel-mediated membrane transport allows the fine adjustment of H2O2 levels in the cytoplasm, intracellular organelles, the apoplast, and the extracellular space, which are essential for it to function as a signal molecule. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Aquaporins.
Keywords: Aquaporin; Hydrogen peroxide; Oxidative stress; Reactive oxygen species; Signaling; Transmembrane transport.